• ZANI :: Interviews - Ex Monkee shares a moment with ZANI

    Tork of the town - Yorkshire Evening Post
    By Neil Hudson
    June 4, 2008

    Peter Tork is enthusing about Italy, having just come from a whirlwind trip of Venice.

    The 66-year-old is discussing the country's charms in a youthful, vigorous voice - but this weekend the former film/TV/pop-rock star will be performing live in Otley, a place of more subtle charms.

    Peter was part of the quartet The Monkees, who starred in a hit US TV show from the late 1960s which took the world by storm.

    Over the next week or so, he will be playing a series of gigs at small venues across the UK, mostly pubs and small music halls and places which offer a more intimate setting but as Mr Tork freely admits: "Hollywood isn't beckoning as loud as it once did."

    It's a far cry from the heady days when he was plucked from relative obscurity – he was part of a group of ambitious young musicians who were making a living in the Bohemian coffee houses of New York's Greenwich Village – and thrust into the limelight by TV studio executives.

    The story goes that a friend of his auditioned for the part and flunked it but recommended Peter, who was snapped up by producers.

    The Monkees was loosely based on The Beatles films A Hard Day's Night and Help! but the show, about four young band-members who found themselves in a series of tricky situations, became so popular it's four stars became a real band.

    The eponymous TV show aside, The Monkees released nine albums as a four-piece band and dozens of chart hits, among them I'm A Believer (penned by Neil Diamond) and Daydream Believer. In 1967, The Monkees even outsold The Beatles and Elvis combined. Such was their appeal.

    Speaking to the Yorkshire Evening Post ahead of his gig in Otley, Mr Tork said: "I cannot abandon my legacy. From the public's point of view, it was the defining moment of my life. There were a lot of things going on to do with music in Greenwich Village at that time. They were happy days and the people were enthusiastic. It was where I learned my craft. You learn your instrument and you learn to sing and then you have to learn to play and perform. Then, once you have done that, you have to learn to perform for the camera. It's one thing to be told where to stand, what to say and do and another thing completely to do it all yourself.

    "The Monkees were not a calculated showbiz effort in the sense that the people who created it knew where it was going. They created The Monkees because they were passionate about the kind of music at the time, in the spirit of The Beatles. The producers were Beatles fans, they were enthusiastic about the whole thing, they didn't just say, 'oh, the kids will like this, so we'll do it like this', they did it because they loved it. That's why it took off.

    "There would be days when I would get up at 7am and start filming, finish at 7pm, then go to the recording studio until 10pm and then go party with my girlfriend until 2am or 3am. But you can do that when you are 23."

    After two hectic series (58 episodes) of filming The Monkees, Peter and the band were forced to move on.

    He is still in touch with some of his old colleagues, including David Jones (whose success, incidentally, prompted another David Jones to change his surname to Bowie) and Micky Dolenz; but added his relationship with Michael Nesmith, with whom he collaborated on a number of songs, had broken down.

    He added: "I still see Micky and Davy and we catch up when we meet but my relationship with Michael has broken down. We don't talk anymore."

    These days, the former Monkees finds himself switching between two alternate life-styles - one of gigging on the international stage with his band Shoe Suede Blues, not to mention his solo performances and the other "relaxing" at his farm in Connecticut, America, where he makes his own maple syrup.

    "It's hard work, I can tell you that," he said. "We have a load of maple trees. You have to drill a hole in the tree and then hang a bucket from it to collect the stuff that comes out, then you boil it all to reduce it 40-1.

    "At the moment I just keep it for me – I put it on my pancakes and give it away to friends, but I could go into setting up a brand I suppose."

    He added: "All my life I have loved the blues and it's got to the point now where I'm beginning to get confident at it, musically, technically and emotionally.

    "In Otley, you will hear me playing the five-string banjo. I took my first piano lesson when I was six but started having proper lessons from the age of nine. I also play the guitar and French horn, which has a very distinctive sound.

    "I've been to Yorkshire before. It’s always good to be in England."

    Dedicated fans are still believers
    Express & Star.com
    May 28, 2008

    It was a far cry from the days when 60s pop phenomenon The Monkees were mobbed by hoards of screaming fans - but former member Peter Tork made light of the sparse turnout for his Black Country concert.

    Dedicated fans came from far afield to see the former Monkees man perform at one of the region’s best-known music venues last night - but unfortunately not in their expected droves.

    Maybe most fans had caught The Last Train to Clarksville - leaving Tork to play out a gig at JB’s in Castle Hill, Dudley, in front of just 24 people, including the warm-up band and the Express & Star reporter and photographer.

    But the 66-year-old, taking the stage with current band Shoe Suede Blues, saw the funny side as he opened the performance by welcoming the “thunderous crowd”.

    And despite the small turnout of 19 fans, the Monkees man seemed right at home on stage just a stone’s throw from Dudley Zoo.


    He had earlier revealed that he was still daydream-believing that a reunion of The Monkees, who shot to fame in a television series but later formed a band in their own right, may yet be in the pipeline.

    Mr Tork said he had recently met former members Mickey Dolenz and Davy Jones, but not Michael Nesmith, and the odds of a comeback had jumped from “one in a hundred to probably 12 in a hundred.”

    That news will be warmly welcomed by three hardy fans at last night’s gig who have been Monkee-ing around for 41 years. Jan Swanton, 60, proudly boasts she has attended virtually every performance involving the band or one of its members on British shores in that time. She had travelled from Ipswich to see the gig with fellow die-hard fans Lyn Jeffs, 54, and Chris Caines, 51, and said following the group had become “a way of life”.

    “When they put the TV show together they knew what the fans wanted,” she said.

    Ms Swanton added that the band’s music had transcended time and generations. “I know an obsessive fan who is only in his 20s,” she said.

    The trio had been to all four previous legs of Tork’s six-date UK tour and said that his blues band had been “absolutely brilliant” every night.

    Professional musician Chris Conway, 45, was also among the crowd having made the trip from Leicester and he was joined by his Kidderminster-based brother, Jerry, and his wife Pauline.

    Chris played with Tork in Britain six years ago – and even sorted out a bed for the night for him. He said: “I toured with Peter in 2002 and we had to put him up for the night in my mum’s house. She rang everyone up and said: ‘We have got a Monkee in the house’.” Monkees’ hits Last Train to Clarksville, I’m a Believer and (I’m Not Your) Stepping Stone have all been given a new twist by Tork’s latest band and formed part of last night’s repertoire.

    Interview: Peter Tork
    By Caroline Dutton
    Chorley Citizen
    May 23, 2008

    Former Monkee Peter Tork is headlining the main stage at this weekend's Darwen Live music festival. We caught up with the man himself IT'S 2pm UK time, 9am US time when I ring Peter Tork, formerly of The Monkees, for our interview.

    He's tired, but in good spirits.

    "This is pretty early for me, seeing as I live the rock n roll lifestyle," he yawned.

    Peter is excited about coming to Darwen to headline at this weekend's Darwen Live music festival. His reasons are two-fold, and he spells them out to me (he has a habit of doing this).

    "Of course I'm looking forward to it, because: a) It's always a joy to play live; and b) it's always a joy to come to the UK. I love it over there, not only because I get a great response, but there's just something about it, I don't even know what. Maybe it's because I'm pretty English and Irish by descent. There's so much heritage over there."

    Peter is, of course, best-known for his time in the '60s pop phenomenon The Monkees, a band created for the NBC American TV series of the same name.

    The show, which ran from 1966 to 1968, helped turn the boys into a real band and one of the most popular music acts of the decade.

    Alongside Peter were Davy Jones, who was born in Manchester, Michael Nesmith and Micky Dolenz and they had hits including Daydream Believer, I'm a Believer and Last Train to Clarksville.

    "At the time we didn't realise what a big deal it was," said Tork.

    "One thing led to another and it was just good to be in the studio making records. I was just thrilled to be playing in a band, because that's my favourite thing to do ever.

    "But looking back it was unique. You've got to remember we weren't cast on musical ability - we were actors. What happened to us was like all the cast of ER becoming real doctors together once the show finished, or like Leonard Nimoy becoming a Vulcan."

    The first time he realised the show was going to make him a star was even before it had been screened.

    "There was this time when we were doing a publicity tour before the show had aired and we were looking over this balcony at a few girls waiting outside. What we didn't see was a huge group of girls standing under the balcony.

    "I went downstairs to get something and was almost crushed to death by these girls. I had to be rescued by the security guards. Right then and there I realised we had been accepted as pop stars. That's when I first had an idea of how big this was going to be. They were really good times."

    Peter was widely regarded the best musician of the band, having worked as a musician before the TV show, but he modestly refutes claims that he had the most talent.

    "I have to stop you right there. I absolutely was not the most talented one," he said seriously.

    "I was the best trained one, but there's a very big difference there. When we started out I knew what the chords were, how they were spelt, but that's all training - not raw talent.

    "As far as proper musical talent goes, I don't know which one of us was the most talented. You could give Davy Jones a guitar and say "do this" and he'd be able to play it that night, and did so on a number of occasions. Micky taught himself to play a few small bits on drums and next thing he was playing them and singing at the drums like he'd been doing it for years.

    "I had been trained on piano since the age of nine and can pick up most instruments pretty readily."

    Although The Monkees officially disbanded in 1970 the guys still keep in contact and several reunions have taken place, beginning in 1986 and the most latest being 2001. But although another reunion is a possibility, the chances are pretty slim, said Peter.

    Besides, he's busy with his own band, Shoe Suede Blues, having developed an interest in blues music more recently.

    He has also taken up the more unusual pastime of being an online agony uncle.

    "I write an advice column on thedailypanic.com," said Peter.

    "I enjoy passing on wisdom - it's a big part of my life. Everybody has different character traits and it's how you use them that counts. I used to be a busybody but now I help people by listening to them and helping them work things out and it's a virtue."

    Tork time with former Monkees stalwart Peter
    By Zena Hawley
    May 16, 2008

    Having admired the Monkees in my youth, I was unprepared for how having the chance to interview one of them would feel.

    But it seemed surprisingly normal when I chatted with Peter Tork - the one who had the slightly dopey look - who appears live on stage in Derbyshire at the end of the month at the Acoustic Festival of Great Britain.

    Peter, who has been making music for more than 40 years - both before and since the Monkees days - was one of two Monkees with acknowledged musical talent. The other was Mike Nesmith.

    The great thing is that he doesn't mind talking about those heady days when he and the other members of the manufactured group shot to instant fame in both the USA and Britain. He is also keen to talk about the group he has put together in more recent times and his mini tour of the UK this year, including the acoustic festival at Catton Park, near Walton-on-Trent.

    "I think I have been an entertainer most of my life. When I was 17 in Greenwich Village, I was leading a bohemian lifestyle for a couple of years," said Peter.

    "The time with the Monkees was good and we had some terrific moments but gradually the personalities grated on me so when we finished it was about the right time.

    "But it gave me a bigger house and the experience of a life of glitz and glamour."

    Peter, who has two grown-up children and a 10-year-old son, reckons that he is has always been as much at home backstage, as out front.

    "I suppose I am a bit of a techie at heart," he said. "But one thing I have discovered in recent years is that I suffer from Asperger's syndrome - a form of autism.

    "There is a fanaticism and obsessiveness about me and my actions that appear to bear this out."

    Acoustic shows appeal to Peter, who says that he has a songbook of more than 100 songs to choose from.

    "I will do some of my own material," said Peter. "But I will also do some songs from the past because there is an audience expectation.

    "But with songwriters such as Carol King, Neil Diamond and Neil Sedaka writing for the Monkees, they are quality songs."

    Monkees legend
    Maynard, MA - The Beacon-Villager
    By Meghan Kelly
    June 21, 2007

    Maynard - He may not monkey around much anymore, but former Monkees band member Peter Tork is still creating plenty of music.

    Along with his blues/jazz band, Shoe Suede Blues, Tork is performing a free concert at the Maynard Public Library on Monday, July 2, to celebrate the library’s one-year anniversary at its new location.

    Tork said he’s not sure how he originally discovered Maynard, but said he has been playing at the Sit n’ Bull in downtown Maynard “off and on for years now.”

    In an interview, Tork talked at length about his love of and passion for the blues.

    “When I play the blues, I am where I want to be,” he said, calling the blues “comforting, [like] good, sticky mom food.”

    Despite his career in pop music, Tork said he’s always played the blues “a little bit.”

    Shoe Suede Blues, which Tork formed about 10 years ago in California, was originally a blues jam band. They have two albums - Saved by the Blues and Cambria Hotel, - which came out in February and tour the country for about 20 weeks a year, according to Tork.

    The band plays several Monkees songs at each performance, mixing the pop in the songs with a bit of blues.

    “We do a version of Last Train to Clarksville that is so slow and slinky it brings a whole new meaning” Tork said.

    “Performing Monkees songs is great fun,” Tork said, but “in terms of pure music, it’s the blues” he prefers.

    The Monkees were formed in 1966, specifically for a television show of the same name. Tork, along with Mickey Dolenz, Davy Jones and Michael Nesmith won out over close to 500 hopefuls. The band enjoyed meteoric success in the mid-1960s before fading to black in 1970. Since then, there have been various reincarnations, the most recent in the late 1990s.

    A petition to induct the Monkees in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is currently circulating online, signed by approximately 3,000 people, there is a at Tork’s Web site, petertork.com.

    Tork said there is a bit of controversy surrounding the petition because how the Monkees came to be.

    “Just because [we] were manufactured doesn’t mean [we] don’t deserve it.”

    Tork placed most of the blame on Jann Wenner, the editor and publisher of Rolling Stone magazine who has a great deal of control over nominations. “He has no right to control [the nominating process]”, said Tork, calling the delay “abuse of power.”

    Quick to point out that it was important to keep any talk of the Monkees and the hall of fame in perspective, Tork said there are “real, important issues in the world today,” pointing to the violence in Darfur, Sudan as an example.

    Though they haven’t performed together in years, Tork said he is still in contact with his old band mates. The last time he saw Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones was about six months ago at a funeral for a former member of the Monkees backup band.

    It was the first time they had seen each other for several years, he said. “Micky and I send e-mails from time to time.”

    Tork moved from California about three years ago and currently lives in Mansfield, Conn., in the house his parents bought when he was 13. “It [was] just too good a house to let go,” he said.

    Ex-Monkee Peter Tork sings the blues at benefit for homeless shelter
    By James Lomuscio - Special Correspondent - The Advocate
    April 27 2007

    NORWALK - Peter Tork made daydream believers last night out of about 300 supporters of the Norwalk Emergency Shelter.

    The former Monkee, from the hit 1960s TV show about a pop band, headlined the shelter's annual "Planting the Seeds of Hope" gala at Continental Manor. The event is the shelter's major fundraiser of the year, and it aimed to raise $150,000 for homeless services in the city.

    "There are always charities that we would like to help," Tork said while waiting to perform. "And the concept, the reason, the motivation for this one speaks for itself. Isn't it clear that there is a need?"

    David Cudiner, shelter board chairman, got Tork to perform through his friend David Fishoff, who had promoted the Monkees' reunion tours. The Monkees disbanded in 2002.

    "Without this type of fundraising, we certainly would not be able to help the homeless," said Carole Antonetz, executive director of the 95-bed shelter. "This helps with our operating expenses and goes directly to the homeless, helping them to get back on their feet again."

    The shelter has an annual $2.12 million budget funded by the state Department of Social Services, the federal government and the city of Norwalk.

    Randy Napoletano, shelter board member in charge of fundraising, said the shelter's goal goes beyond providing emergency food and shelter, "but getting them into some kind of counseling and housing."

    "Your typical homeless person today is no longer just the patient out on the street," said Napoletano, a vice president at Norwalk Bank & Trust. "It's families, people you probably know."

    Affordable housing, he added, which is being incorporated into many of Norwalk's redevelopment projects, will be a major factor in stemming the rise of homelessness among families being priced out of Fairfield County.

    "Norwalk has done a great job pushing to get affordable housing, and we've always been above the state curve," he said.

    Still, he said, the need persists, making fundraising a priority.

    Although the reason for the gala was a sobering one, Napoletano added: "We want people to have fun in the process of raising money."

    Silent auction items included dinners at local restaurants, cigars, tickets to Red Sox and Yankee games, artwork and musical instruments, including a bass guitar signed by Tork.

    Tork said his repertoire for the evening would include some Monkees hits, as well as songs he plays with his new band, Shoe Suede Blues. He said the group "started out as a little blues band for charity groups in Southern California" before going national. At noon today, the group is scheduled to perform at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Tork's hometown.

    He's a believer
    Peter Tork defends the Monkees' viability for Rock Hall of Fame
    By Joseph Dionisio - Newsday.com
    April 17, 2007

    'So you better get ready," shouts the theme to the Monkees' 1960s TV series, "we may be comin' to your town!" Unless, of course, your town is Cleveland.

    Peter Tork - whose band Shoe Suede Blues visits East Setauket and Patchogue this week - says the Monkees merit consideration for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but one man opposes their induction.

    "The only person ... holding a grudge is Jann Wenner of Rolling Stone," says the former Monkee. The magazine editor "has never written a gracious word. He personally has the veto power to keep us out."

    How does the band - whose Emmy-winning show aped the Beatles' film "A Hard Day's Night" - rank against other inductees? Neither the Animals, the Rascals, the Lovin' Spoonful, the Dells, Del Shannon, Frankie Lymon nor Black Sabbath have more Top 20 singles than the Monkees' 10. Ratings aside, classics such as "Pleasant Valley Sunday" have aged better than the likes of Shannon, whose "Hat's Off to Larry" seems laughable as Hall justification.

    Bands as disparate as the Sex Pistols ("Steppin' Stone"), Run-D.M.C. ("Mary, Mary") and The Church ("Porpoise Song") have covered Monkees' songs. Even Radiohead's "Go To Sleep" eerily channels Micky Dolenz's vocals.

    "I'm convinced that Micky is one of the great singers of our time," Tork says. "He's always been something of a genius."

    One notable fan is Michael Stipe, who reportedly vowed to bar R.E.M. from the Hall until the Monkees got in. Stipe declined comment, but in 1994 he did tell Rolling Stone that "The Monkees ... meant a lot more to me" than the Beatles. R.E.M. was finally inducted last month.

    Wenner - who didn't reply to an interview request - allegedly denounces Tork, Dolenz, Davy Jones and Mike Nesmith for not playing their own instruments on the band's first albums.

    In this "American Idol" era, when acts are "manufactured" like toasters, fewer critics crucify the Monkees for being a TV show that spawned a band. So have they faced an unfair standard? Were they, in fact, a "real" group?

    "I've not heard the slightest murmur about the Monkees being fake," Tork, 65, says from his Connecticut home. "Everybody's forgotten it, except Wenner. He's been vicious."

    One Rolling Stone reporter, Tork says, wrote a glowing story crystallizing their merits. But before publication, Tork adds, "The writer said, 'Jann took my article, gutted it and rewrote it to [bury] you.'"

    Backed by producer Don Kirshner's songwriting stable - Carole King, Gerry Goffin, Neil Diamond, Neil Sedaka, Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart - the band unleashed four straight No. 1 albums and three chart-toppers. They eventually penned their own catchy pop, albeit with less chart success.

    "George Harrison used to say he wished his best songs were as good as the worst of Lennon-McCartney," Tork says. "So, we used to hope our best songs were as good as the worst of the Brill Building."

    Tork's fame, however, is more about musicianship than songwriting. So said Jimi Hendrix, who called him the most talented Monkee. The guitarist opened several Monkees' gigs, including a '67 show at Forest Hills' West Side Tennis Club. Was his compliment accurate?

    "I'm not sure it's quite true," says Tork, who plays guitar, banjo, piano and bass. "I'm far and away the best-trained musician, but I'm in awe of all three [Monkees]. Jimi meant that I was the most [receptive] to his kind of music."

    Tork's new album - Shoe Suede Blues' "Cambria Hotel" (sold at cdbaby.com) - stars guitarist Richard Mikuls, bassist Arnold Jacks and drummer Jeff Olson. The band's name doesn't reflect Elvis, so much as a less fractious era in radio.

    Besides a bluesy "Last Train to Clarksville," its hidden gem is an Indian violin-laced "For Pete's Sake," aka the show's closing theme. The album has medicinal value, Tork suggests.

    "People listen to dance music like taking aspirin: to shut down the pain," he says. "But the blues puts you back together. Like penicillin, it's therapeutic. If I can bring a microscopic bit of that feeling ... my career's in good shape.

    The Monkees today:

    DAVY JONES, 61 ... the lone British Monkee

    His fame led David Bowie (originally David Jones) to change his name ... Tony nominee for "Oliver!" in '60s ... he and Dolenz had little musical training before the series' NBC debut on Sept. 12, 1966.

    MIKE NESMITH, 64 ... aka Wool Hat

    He wrote Linda Ronstadt's "Different Drum" ... video pioneer who paved the way for creation of MTV ... his mom, Bette Nesmith, invented Liquid Paper in the '50s Skipped most Monkee reunions, and keeps little contact.


    Earned TV success as child star (1956's "Circus Boy"), director ("Boy Meets World")... auditioned as Fonzie on "Happy Days" and Riddler in '95's "Batman," but voiced Two-Face in a Bat 'toon ... son of actor George Dolenz … former DJ at WCBS/101.1 FM.

    Review: Peter Tork, The Cavern
    by David Harrison, Liverpool Daily Post
    February 12, 2007

    Former Monkee Peter Tork finally laid to rest the old myth that The Monkees couldn't play their own instruments.

    During a set which included old Monkees hits such as Daydream Believer, I'm Not Your Stepping Stone and an excellent, bluesy Last Train to Clarksville, Tork sang lead vocals and changed instruments with ease, from guitar, to banjo and then on to keyboard.

    It was this myth which had contributed to Tork's departure from the Monkees at the end of 1968. Always cast as the "dumb" one in the TV series, a role he was never comfortable with, and as a multi-instrumentalist, he was always hurt by media jibes that they were just a manufactured band with no musical talent, made in the image of The Beatles.

    The last complete Monkees reunion was 10 years ago, bringing all four original members together for a UK tour, TV special and a new album, Justus, where the Monkees wrote and performed all the songs.

    The album failed to chart and, despite the UK tour selling out, the shows were heavily criticised by the British music press, leading to the departure of Nesmith from further projects. Tork followed suit and, according to various sources, all four Monkees have since fallen out, putting a dampener on a 40th anniversary tour.

    However, Tork definitely made up for the missing three Monkees at The Cavern, confidently mixing in Monkee classics with songs from his new blues-orientated album, Cambria Hotel, his band, Shoe Suede Blues, producing a mature and authentic sound.

    The place was packed with a mixture of age groups, and for a moment, it almost seemed that you were in the original Cavern of the 1960s.

    After the gig, Tork chatted to frantic fans as he signed copies of his latest album. It was like Monkeemania all over again.

    Added 6/15/2006 - Movie related

    Cathedral Pines, the spiritual thriller written by Republican columnist Donnie Moorhouse.

  • IMDb: Cathedral Pines (2006):

    Peter Tork as Mr. Geary

    Jeff Pitchell as Bobby

    Comment from interview with Donnie Moorhouse (MassLive.com) regarding Peter Tork and Jeff Pitchell:

    Jeff Pitchell from the band Texas Flood is in the flick and he was working with Peter Tork in a side project. He put me in touch with Peter and we got him up for the day to play a very cool role (shot in front of Sunrise Pastry in Easthampton). Once you have Peter Tork on film, it makes it a whole lot easier to get others on board.

    Added 9/4/2006 - Winston-Salem Journal | Peter Tork previews band's CD in Clemmons

    Peter Tork previews band's CD in Clemmons
    By Paul Garber - Clemmons Journal Reporter
    Winston-Salem Journal
    August 31, 2006

    Peter Tork and the members of his band, the Shoe Suede Blues, have worked and reworked for months on songs for their latest compact disc, Cambria Hotel.

    They got a chance to hear the album all the way through for the first time last Thursday, along with a group of about 50 other people who attended a preview of the CD at the Village Inn and Conference Center.

    "There's a lot of good stuff here," Tork said. "I'm pretty pleased with it."

    After the CD was played, the band performed the songs for the audience. Tork has been a busy this summer.

    Tork, 64, is celebrating the 40th anniversary of The Monkees, which made its debut on NBC in September 1966.

    Earlier this month, Rhino Records released deluxe editions of the band's first two albums, The Monkees and More of the Monkees, with stereo and mono mixes on both albums along with alternate mixes and other bonus tracks.

    Cambria Hotel contains new, bluesy versions of two well-known Monkees songs, "Last Train to Clarksville," one of the band's first hits, and "For Pete's Sake," which played during the closing credits of the show.

    How did the preview and concert end up in Clemmons? Tork said that it was a nod to his publicist, Marilyn Ingram, who has worked with Tork for years in her role as the director of the Lewisville Area Arts Council and this year became Tork's publicist.

    "Marilyn is about our most tireless supporter," Tork said. "We're delighted that she puts in the kind of energy that she does."

    She organized the preview, and Ingram performed with her band, AURA3. During one of its songs, the Nefertiti Dance Troupe re-created a belly-dance scene from Head, the Monkees' only full-length film.

    Tork has been involved in many projects since leaving the Monkees, but he shrugged off a question about where this album fits in relation to other works he has done in the past.

    "This is just the CD I'm working on now," he said.

    PTsgirl comment regarding Peter making syrup during the winter: Hmmmm, maybe Peter could bring his syrup to the Pennsylvania Maple Festival.

    Monkees play around with promotion
    By William H. Sokolic - Courier-Post Staff
    CourierPostOnline - South Jersey's Web Site
    May 12, 2006


    Wouldn't it be great to bring the Monkees to the Wildwoods in honor of the 40th anniversary of the band's debut on television?

    Give Paul Russo kudos for trying. The owner of Cool Scoops discovered a tribute band known as the Missing Links. Micky Dolenz headlined the concert at the Wildwoods Convention Center as part of Fabulous Fifties Salutes the Sixties weekend last month. And Russo snared Peter Tork to say a few words outside Cool Scoops on the final day of the weekend in appreciation.

    But Russo got more than he expected from Tork.

    The former Monkee agreed to show up at the concert and did a couple of impromptu numbers with Dolenz. And the next day, he plugged his guitar in and jammed with the Missing Links on several songs, Monkees and otherwise.

    Tork performs with an ever-changing roster of musicians in a band called Shoe Suede Blues. The band, formed with a friend more than a dozen years ago, emerged as an afterthought following a benefit concert. Tork sings lead, plays guitar and keyboards.

    "We don't play as many dates as we'd like," he said, saying the band performs between 50 and 80 shows a year. When he's not performing, Tork lives in Connecticut, in a historic house his parents owned when he was a child. He has a studio in the house, but also makes syrup in the winter.

    "We put out an album, Saved by the Blues, and we're working on another one," Tork said in an interview.

    He didn't rule out a Monkees reunion down the road, despite a history of animosity among the members.

    "I don't miss all the Monkees hoopla," he said. "What I miss are the tech crews having guitars ready for you."

    Monkee Business Delights Fans
    By Jack Fichter
    Cape May County Herald
    May 3, 2006

    Wildwood- "That was then, this is now," sang Micky Dolenz to 3,000 fans who were concentrating more on the then, than the now, at the Fabulous 50s Weekend Salutes the 60s, April 29 at the Wildwoods Convention Center. The former Monkees drummer, singer, and actor headlined a four-and one-half-hour show that spanned the 60s from The Rip Chords performing their hot rod tunes "409" and "Little Cobra" to the Grass Roots leading sing-alongs of "Midnight Confessions" and "Sooner or Later."

    The red-gowned Crystals brought sweet voices and looks to match, singing their hits "Doo Ron Ron," and "He Kissed Me."

    Peter Noone, original lead singer for Herman's Hermits, delighted the crowd with a dozen of the band's hits. "H-E-N-R-Y" shouted the audience for a sing-along of "I'm Henry the VIII, I Am."

    Noone showed a biting sense of humor, referring to the convention center as an "airplane hangar." He claimed to be the youngest performer on the bill.

    Noone took a couple of potshots at Dolenz and Monkee Davy Jones, joking that Dolenz would ride back to his hotel in an ambulance.

    The weekend was all about the Monkees. however. Monkees merchandise sold briskly in the lobby.

    The crowd received an unexpected treat when Monkee Peter Tork joined Dolenz on stage for two songs. The pair had not appeared together since a 2001 Monkees tour.

    Dolenz played electric guitar throughout the show, a switch from his usual acoustic model. He delighted the crowd by playing drums on "Mary, Mary" and "Circle Sky."

    He acknowledged the song writing talents of Monkee Michael Nesmith, performing two of his compositions. Dolenz's sister, Coco, took lead vocals on Nesmith's "Different Drum," a song he wrote for Linda Ronstadt. The concert ended at midnight with a line of least 200 fans waiting for Micky Dolenz's autograph at a book table in the lobby.

    On April 30, Tork appeared on 12th Avenue in North Wildwood outside Cool Scoops Ice Cream Parlor for a renaming of the block to Monkees Way. On hand was the Monkees' customized, 1966 Pontiac GTO convertible and a Monkees cover band called "The Missing Links."

    North Wildwood Mayor Bill Henfey officiated over the ceremonial street renaming.

    Cool Scoops owner Paul Russo presented Tork a plaques commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Monkees television series and albums on behalf of the Greater Wildwood Chamber of Commerce.

    The weekend's festivities started on Friday night with Philadelphia radio legend Jerry Blavat holding a well-attended record hop at the convention center.

    TownOnline.com - Opinion & Letters: Sullivan: New gig for this Monkee
    By Maureen Sullivan/ Sullivan’s travels
    Friday, February 10, 2006

    The last time I sat this close to Peter Tork, he was filling a 12-inch TV screen.

    He also had no beard, no glasses and no blues on his guitar - just the bubble gum pop that filled the airwaves when he was on "The Monkees" TV show in the ’60s. He was the dopey-looking guy who was always getting into trouble, the guy who rarely got to sing lead, just play the bass or piano or harp and play along with the rest of the gang.

    Not so last Saturday night, as Tork joined the Jeff Pitchell Band for two sets of scorching blues at The Center for Arts in Natick.

    Tork didn’t just sit in the background thumping a bass, either. On guitar, and sometimes on harmonica, he delivered his own take on things, including a bluesy twist on "Last Train to Clarksville."

    He performed before a mix of former teenyboppers and blues fans, present and future, who will remember Tork for numbers such as these and not for running around like a cutesy maniac in some quirky, long-ago TV show.

    Tork also had neither pretense nor entourage; between sets, he met with fans in the lobby, having his picture taken and signing autographs.

    Yes, I was one of them; I bought one of his CDs and had him sign it. It’s there among my other CDs now, including one from the Monkees; it’s a slender thread to my childhood, when our living room, like millions of others at that time, would be tuned in, and discussions (or debates, take your pick) would focus on the various merits of each Monkee, and whether they really could play, and whether they were bigger than the Beatles, and so on...

    That came to mind when I sat in that front-row seat and wondered what teenage girl from the ’60s would sell their soul for a seat like this, to bethis close to a real, live Monkee, even a Monkee who was older, a bit gruffier and more bent on playing chord-ripping blues than a few bars of "Daydream Believer."

    Much has happened in the last 40 years. The Monkees ceased to be a cultural phenomenon a long time ago, but Peter Tork carries on. And fans, both classic rock and blues, are happier for it.

    No longer of the young generation, Peter Tork still has something to say
    By Lee Roberts
    The Journal Times Online
    August 12, 2005

    Peter Tork, famous for his role as the lovable, if not somewhat goofy, guitar player with the 1960s pop musical group The Monkees, will perform a benefit concert in Kenosha Saturday night.

    Tork will be the headliner for the concert at the Rhode Opera House. The Southside Johnny band will be the opening act. Proceeds from his performance will benefit the restoration of the Rhode Center for the Arts.

    Born Peter Halsten Thorkelson in Washington, D.C., in February 1942, Tork is now a Connecticut resident. He came to Wisconsin a few days ahead of time to visit with friends and took some time out to talk with us about his current projects and his days with one of America's favorite pop culture television shows, "The Monkees."

    Unlike his fellow Monkees Davy Jones and Micky Dolenz, Tork was a working musician prior to being recruited for his role as a teen idol. Through the years, he has continued to perform both with Monkees reunion groups and a number of other bands and solo gigs.

    Tork, who is more witty than goofy in real life, also spent some time teaching - English and algebra - and has appeared in guest roles on several television sitcoms including "Boy Meets World," "Wings" and "King of Queens." His current musical project is a group called Shoe Suede Blues, which performs at dance clubs, theaters and private functions across the nation.

    What brings you to Wisconsin?

    I actually have Wisconsin roots. My grandfather taught at UW-Madison and my father, mother and brother all went to school there. My mother and father got married in Racine in 1940 and my two favorite aunts lived in Wisconsin until they died. I lived in Wisconsin from the time I was 6 or 7 until I was 9, in a little town that is no longer there called Badger (near Madison). Today, as I'm driving through Ripon, I'm seeing and experiencing all kinds of things that remind me of those days. I'm a sucker for a Wisconsin accent. Every time I hear one of those Wisconsin "Nooooo's, it melts my heart.

    Who will be playing with you at the Rhode Opera House in Kenosha on Saturday?

    Mine will be a solo show.

    What type of music will you performing?

    I was thinking about doing some Gregorian chants, some Klezmer music and maybe a few Japanese folk songs - just kidding! I'll be doing some folk and acoustic pop, some cover songs and a few Monkees songs. You can't get away from that.

    Tell us about your current group Shoe Suede Blues?

    This is what I want to do when I grow up. Some friends and I were asked to put together a band for a benefit dance for a women's recovery home and child care program in Venice Beach. We got ourselves down there and went out and rock and rolled the place. After that performance, we began getting requests for performances for other benefits, corporate events and clubs, so we went out and did it again and again. Once we got national exposure on Cox Cablevision, we started getting inquiries from around the country. That was 10 years ago and we've been doing it ever since. We're in the process of setting up a tour along the Eastern Seaboard in the next few weeks.

    Is benefit work something you hope to continue?

    Yes. It is a great way to give back to the community. You've got to pay it forward, as they say. We aren't really sure where our talent comes from, are we? So it's best to share our gifts as much as we possibly can.

    Is it true that Stephen Stills is the one who encouraged you to audition for The Monkees television show?

    Yes. I was playing in a band with Stephen at the time and he knew one of the producers who was putting together the television show. The story goes that the producer told Stephen that he wanted to ask him, but he couldn't because Stephen's teeth and hair weren't telegenic enough. When Stephen tried to think of someone with better teeth and hair, his old friend Peter was the first to come to mind. Poor Stephen, he had to go on and settle for Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Poor sot. I really feel sorry for him. Don't you?

    How did your time with the Monkees shape what you are doing today?

    That is difficult to say, as I don't really have any other experience to compare it to - I don't know what my life would have been like if I hadn't been a Monkee. My best guess is that it would have to do with the good and bad that came from having witnessed how a big time entertainment project is assembled. Granted, this wasn't Tom Cruise in "War of the Worlds" but it was big time entertainment on television. I am positive of this - every type of payoff has its price.

    You were the first Monkee to leave the group. Why did you leave?

    For me, the goal was always to be with a group of musicians who could create music together (without corporate dictating what could and couldn't be done). I get transported every time Shoe Suede Blues plays. And actually, I really enjoyed making our third album with the Monkees, because that's when we started to step away from the studio (executives) and do more of what we wanted. We had a great time when we made the "Headquarters" album. I think it has more resonance to it than the first two.

    You play a variety of instruments (guitar, banjo, keyboards, French horn, bass, trumpet and ukulele). Is there one that is your favorite?

    No, not really. I learned to play so many because as a teacher, I realized that in order to teach something well you need to understand what your student is going through as they try to learn.

    What projects do you have on the horizon?

    I'm going to be appearing at the Cult TV Festival in the United Kingdom in October and we're hoping to book a few dates for Shoe Suede Blues there, too. We'd love to be able to take the band to Europe.

    Tork's advice to young musicians and Monkee fans (young and old) out there - Be a hero to yourself.

    For more information about Peter Tork, visit: Official Peter Tork Website.

    Ex-Monkee 'turns on' CityBlock
    By Donnie Moorhouse - Music writer
    The Republican
    Saturday, July 23, 2005

    SPRINGFIELD - Jeff Pitchell and his band Texas Flood headlined CityBlock at Stearns Square on Thursday night, bringing a little added value and star power with Peter Tork of The Monkees joining the band for several songs.

    After a couple weeks of relatively light attendance, the crowd returned in full force for the show with thousands lining Stearns Square and the adjacent streets, forming lines in and out of the clubs in the entertainment district.

    The celebrity of Tork certainly had something to do with attendance, but that is not to discount the draw of Pitchell who has developed a strong following in the region by playing blues standards, choice covers, and his original material.

    After watching Pitchell and Tork on stage, augmented by a very large band which included the three Jeffettes on backing vocals, it becomes evident why these two Connecticut residents may have found a perfect match in each other.

    Pitchell can flat out play. He is highly revered locally but still way too underrated. He backs it up with a soulful voice and solid song selection.

    Tork brings star power, and the ability to entertain. He is old school, and handles a stage like a veteran. It doesn't hurt that he can play a little guitar.

    "We are rubbing off on each other," Tork said. "I'm turning into a better guitar player and Jeff is turning into an idiot."

    With Tork, the personality switch is always in the "on" position.

    Pitchell and Texas Flood opened the show, ripping through "Do Right Girl," and admirably covering Santana's "Evil Ways."

    They brought out Tork to play guitar and sing on "Mailbox Blues," and the star of the television show and band known as The Monkees addressed the local crowd.

    "Thank you, Honolulu!" he said.

    Always "on."

    With Tork on harmonica, Pitchell lit into "Whiskey River," and used the song to introduce the members of Texas Flood.

    The group did not ignore the vaunted Monkee catalog, playing a slowed version of "Last Train To Clarksville," and closing with "I'm A Believer."

    The group came out and encored with a cover of Stevie Wonder's "Superstition." Another long line formed at the end of the night as both Pitchell and Tork signed autographs for fans.

    Hey, Hey, It's a Monkee: Peter Tork plays blues with Jeff Pitchell at Paddy's
    TheDay.com - New London, CT
    By Leslie Rovetti
    Published on 7/15/2005

    Talent agent Al Maloney sounded like an intelligent guy, but he still insisted that "one plus one equals three."

    The first "one" is musician Jeff Pitchell, a blues guitarist who has recorded four CDs and recently sang "God Bless America" at Fenway Park.

    The second "one" is Peter Tork. Yes, THAT Peter Tork, blues musician and former member of the iconic '60s television show and pop group, The Monkees.

    Added together, Maloney's two clients become Jeff Pitchell and Texas Flood with special guest Peter Tork, a greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts combo scheduled to appear tomorrow at Paddy's in Misquamicut.

    The two musicians got together when a mutual acquaintance sent Tork to see Pitchell play at Black-Eyed Sallys BBQ & Blues in Hartford.

    "He just sat in with us, and it all just fell in together," Pitchell said.

    Although each performer has his own band, they have played together about a dozen times throughout the Northeast.

    "The bands don't play together. So far, it's just me joining Jeff's band," Tork said. He enjoys the collaboration, he said, but he still likes to play with his own band, Shoe Suede Blues.

    "The only problem (with the alliance) from my point of view is that it's not my band. I really love my band," Tork said.

    Pitchell's band, Texas Flood, is composed of "very strong musicians from the Northeast," Pitchell said.

    "We're a rhythm and blues, rock, funk band," he said. "We've gotten accolades in the blues, but we do all sorts of music.

    "It's a very full-sounding, American-sounding band."

    The two men share not only the limelight, but also each other's repertoires. Pitchell and Tork play their own compositions, covers of well-known blues tunes, and even a few old Monkees songs.

    "It turns into an American music review," Pitchell said.

    "You have to come and see" which Monkees songs they play, Tork added, but he insisted they would be instantly recognizable.

    Both men bring a sizable amount of musical chops to the table. Pitchell won a statewide guitar-playing contest at the University of Hartford when he was 15 and a student at Webb Junior High School in Wethersfield. His fourth CD, "Heavy Hitter," spent 12 weeks at No. 7 on the national Billboard charts.

    "He's really such a good guitar player," Tork said of Pitchell.

    Tork, although perhaps best known as the clowning Peter on the Monkees, has been playing music since he was 9. He now plays the guitar, keyboards, five-string banjo, bass and "a little harmonica." He even plays the recorder.

    In addition to playing music, Tork also apparently hasn't grown too far from his comedic roots.

    "You don't know what he's going to do," Pitchell said of Tork. "We have a lot of fun. He's a true professional comedian." Tork agreed that he is "offbeat and unpredictable," but said there's no "theater of the absurd" on the stage.

    Although some people might check out the show purely for the Monkees nostalgia, Tork said he hopes they will leave thinking of him as a blues musician.

    "We're getting an awful lot of, 'Who knew you played the blues? Who knew you played the blues so well?'" Tork said.

    Pitchell said he doesn't care how many people come only in the hope of reliving their flower-power youth.

    "It just means more people," Pitchell said. "It takes the pressure off me."

    Tork's former fan base of screaming teenaged honeys is now mostly a group of doting grandmas in their 50s, and he said they really don't come out to concerts in force.

    "There are women who smile favorably at me," he said. However, "I haven't had a bra thrown at me for a long time, and it was a spare." The fan apparently brought an undergarment she had outgrown to the concert, and didn't intend to remove anything she was wearing.

    Both Tork and Pitchell will sell their CDs that evening. In addition, Tork said they will be available to meet and greet after the show. That's a nice aspect of playing smaller venues, he said, because with a smaller crowd he can sign autographs for everyone.

    It's very different from the Monkees reunion tour, when he said he "played to 200,000 in Boston."

    "Boy, was my hand tired," Tork said.

    So come and watch them sing and play. They're not the young generation, but they've still got something to say.

    Added 9/26/2004:

    Stanley a pal as Tork flails
    By Christian Toto
    2004 News World Communications, Inc.
    September 24, 2004

    Former Monkees bassist Peter Tork does indeed play his own instruments. The problem is that he still does his own singing.

    Mr. Tork displayed proficiency, if not wizardry, playing an acoustic guitar, banjo and piano during a three-plus hour set at Vienna's Jammin' Java cafe along with longtime pal James Lee Stanley.

    Musical versatility, alas, does not a frontman make. Mr. Tork, the fourth lead singing option in the Prefab Four, wasn't consigned to that position by accident. The right key routinely eludes him in concert, although when singing within his limited range his voice contains a sweetness that belies his uncertain control.

    It hasn't stopped him from touring consistently with Mr. Stanley as well as his side band, Shoe Suede Blues.

    Mr. Tork did his best to minimize his Monkees past, lobbing but a few of the quartet's hits into the set list. Only hard-core fans would recognize two of those tracks. Rare is the casual Monkees follower who prefers the band's 1968 film soundtrack "Head" over "Last Train to Clarksville" or "I'm a Believer."

    The ex-Monkee's once sandy mop is a bit muddier these days, but he's as lean as the lad who answered that Variety ad years ago for "four insane boys, ages 17-21" for a Beatles-esque television series.

    The young Mr. Tork, squeezed into the show's sweet but dim character nearly 40 years ago, never quite fit that bill. His taste in music is eclectic, something that was no secret to anyone who heard the few Monkees songs he was allowed to pen.

    He and Michael Nesmith were the "musicians" of the foursome. Davy Jones and Micky Dolenz entered the project with more acting and musical theater than musicianship on their resume.

    The permanent hangover from his Monkees heyday continues to shadow Mr. Tork. His television past lets him mine humor from the mundane, like his pantomiming along with a microphone arm that had a mind of its own. But his constant mugging and inability to hold back his non sequiturs showed a lack of discipline.

    Even during the various Monkees reunions, the onstage Mr. Tork hasn't quite learned to balance performing as a mature musician with the Marx Brothers-style high jinks of his youthful television persona.

    If only he set aside the shtick and shared some stories from his Monkees heyday, a time teeming with flower-power excesses. That's a spoken-word tour we'd pay to see. Instead, we're left with Mr. Tork's tributes to his musical predecessors and flailing attempts at the blues.

    Mr. Stanley, whose biggest claim to fame is having played a variety of aliens on five seasons of "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," is the sturdier soloist of the two. His reedy but resonant voice wrapped around a number of engaging originals, some of which tapped into his gleefully anti-Bush ramblings.

    The pair first met 41 years ago on the folkie touring scene traveling through Virginia, Mr. Stanley recalled. Onstage, they appear as comfortable as cousins, and their harmonizing toward the show's conclusion ended the evening on a higher note.

    By the time they paired to sing "Pleasant Valley Sunday," the Monkees' sneaky swipe at suburbia, even the staunchest Monkees fans were glad to see Mr. Stanley help his friend fill in the musical gaps.

    MATTHEW RATAJCZAK staff photographer

    Peter Tork performs on stage with his band Shoe Suede Blues during ArtsFest on Sunday in Memorial Park in Stuart. Tork is a former member of the '60s pop sensation the Monkees.

    Monkee shouts the blues at ArtsFest
    By Bill DeYoung Entertainment Editor
    March 29, 2004

    Even the presence of a one-time teen idol wasn't enough to get Sunday's art festival crowd worked up.

    Former Monkee Peter Tork made his first-ever appearance in Stuart during the final day of the 2004 ArtsFest, and the response was underwhelming.

    His band, Shoe Suede Blues, is a reasonably competent quartet — bass, drums, lead guitar and Tork on rhythm guitar, piano and vocals.

    However, the group played almost 90 minutes of straight-ahead Chicago blues — everything from "Got My Mojo Working" to "Messin' With the Kid" — and it just wasn't the right fit for a sweltering spring afternoon.

    Shoe Suede Blues doubtless cooks in a late-night bar, when the lights are low, the beer cold and the customers ready to rock to "Hitch-Hike," "Kiss & Tell" and other 12-bar rhythm 'n' blues classics. This was a family event, and nobody seemed to know what to do with Peter Tork.

    For the entire performance, a steady stream of ArtsFest visitors walked into the concert area, looked at Tork for a minute or two, and turned back towards the artists' booths, their curiosity apparently satisfied.

    About 80 people sat, without shade, on the grass and watched the whole show.

    To his credit, Tork doesn't look his age (63). He was dressed in black, with a white tie, and is quite animated onstage.

    He was, however, never the Monkees' strongest singer, and classic blues tunes don't exactly require the phrasing of Frank Sinatra.

    He did include a few Monkees classics, only one of which — the novelty tune "Your Auntie Grizelda" — he'd sung on the original recording.

    So he put a soulful spin on "I'm a Believer," "I'm Not Your Stepping Stone" and "Daydream Believer." The latter had a few sweaty folks in the crowd singing along.

    These were high spots in the show. Unfortunately, the generated momentum was immediately killed with more three-chord blues, which blew away on the March breeze and disappeared over the concession stand.

    Shoe Suede Blues, from left: Michael Sunday, bass; Richard Mikuls, guitar; Peter Tork, guitar and keyboards; and John "Daddeo" Palmer, drums and harmonica.

    Tork says Monkees are probably over
    By Bill DeYoung, Entertainment Editor
    March 26, 2004

    Don't hold your breath waiting for another Monkees reunion. Although the prefab four toured to great success in the '80s and '90s, Peter Tork says things are a bit dicier these days.

    "I don't think about doing it again much," Tork offers by phone from his home in California. "If the occasion arose, I would have to look at the offer."

    Tork and his band Shoe Suede Blues will perform Sunday at the Stuart ArtsFest.

    All four original Monkees -- Tork, Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones and even longtime holdout Michael Nesmith -- played together on a 1997 tour of England.

    "When Michael did do the shows with us, it was exciting," says the 62-year-old Tork. "It was great to work on the road with those guys -- particularly as time wore on, they got to be funnier and funnier, and easier to work with."

    Nesmith had previously refused to indulge in Monkees nostalgia -- he'd always been the Monkee most offended by their "manufactured" past and the attendant rock-media scorn -- and the other three had worked without him for years.

    The British tour was a commercial and critical smash. However, when promoters started clamoring for a U.S. jaunt, Nesmith balked.


    "I don't know how he came to be this way," Tork says, "but the poor boy basically can't work with anybody else. He has learned over the years to allow other people into his orbit, which only means that he is now in control of a larger crew than he ever had before.

    "He didn't want to work with the Monkees anymore. The reason he didn't come back to America with us was that when he joined the operation, he made sure it was his way or the highway. But even that wasn't enough for him. I don't think he had enough control."

    The Monkees' legacy is a spotty one. Hired in 1966 to portray four "American Beatles" in an NBC sitcom, the four had never met before; their music was an afterthought and performed by studio musicians. For their early hits -- the chart-topping "Last Train to Clarksville" and "I'm a Believer" among them -- they didn't play any music, just mimed to their pre-recorded vocals on the TV show.

    Musicians both, Nesmith and Tork bristled at the heavy-handed "music supervision" of Don Kirshner, who chose the songs they'd record, and when it came out in the press that the Monkees weren't a "real" band, they got mad.

    When the records started to sell in the millions, and the power was theirs, they had Kirshner fired.


    Hindsight reveals that many Monkees recordings rank with some of the greatest '60s pop music. The Beach Boys, after all, used studio pros on "Pet Sounds," and nobody came after Brian Wilson with an ax to grind.

    From "Pleasant Valley Sunday" and "A Little Bit Me, a Little Bit You" to the landmark albums "Headquarters" and "Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones Ltd." (both recorded by the Monkees themselves, augmented by studio players) there are some great records in the canon.

    "I would have liked to see (the music) produced a bit more heavily," Tork says, "but part of the TV producers' brief was 'Don't scare the parents.' They tried to walk a very fine line, and I think they did a pretty good job of it. I'd like to have seen the whole thing go on a little longer, but them's the breaks."

    Indeed, Tork was the first to break camp, in 1968, after the cancellation of the TV show and the Monkees' disastrously received movie "Head."

    "You know the expression 'received wisdom'?" he says. "The received wisdom on it (the band) was that it was a lower-value effort because it was structured and cast as characters in a TV show.

    "It was highly structured as a project -- and the received wisdom was that that was a lower value than what seemed to be spontaneous projects, which meant the Beatles. They were spontaneous; we were structured.

    "I didn't know then what I know now -- that all great careers have a really nasty lull in the middle. I wish I had, then I might have stuck with it longer, and it might have come back."


    Tork, whose new band plays a lot of heavy blues, along with rock 'n' roll classics and a smattering of Monkees hits, has very definite thoughts on the Monkees' catalogue.

    "The best Monkees music ever generated was 'Riu Chiu,' an a capella song in medieval Spanish that we did on the Christmas episode," he says. "It shows up on a couple of the 'Missing Links' CDs.

    "It's an astounding piece of music. As far as I'm concerned, it's just amazing. We sang it live to camera.

    "I love 'Goin' Down,' which we did spontaneously in the studio. I think 'Pleasant Valley Sunday' is the best single we put out. And I thought 'Words' was a very, very good piece of pop music. And we did it justice."

    (For the record, Tork -- who didn't do a lot of lead singing in the group -- plays piano on "Daydream Believer" and banjo on "You Told Me," among many other great songs, and took the co-lead on "Shades of Grey" and "Words.")

    A recurring role in the '90s sitcom "Boy Meets World" (as Topanga's hippie dad) almost led to a rekindling of his acting career, but Tork says he thought better of it.

    "The truth is that I got off as an actor maybe once or twice in acting class," he says. "I get off as a musician every time I'm up there.

    "When the rewards are greater and the price is way lower . . . let's see, a lot of trouble and a few rewards, or not as much trouble and a lot of rewards . . . let me think here . . . gosh. I can't figure it out."


    Davy Jones, 58, owns a home in Indiantown where he trains thoroughbred horses. Jones won’t be able to join Peter Tork onstage this weekend: He’s in England, on tour. April 16-19, he’ll perform at the International Flower and Garden Fest at Epcot Center. See Davy Jones.net.

    Micky Dolenz, 59, is appearing on Broadway as Zoser in the Elton John/Tim Rice musical "Aida." See Micky Dolenz.com.

    Michael Nesmith, 63, maintains a cult following for his quirky recordings and concert performances. A pioneer in music videos, he is credited with inventing the concept that led to MTV. See Video Ranch.com.

    Peter & James performed at Jammin' Java January 29, 2004

    Peter Tork's New Twist On Some Classic Oldies
    By Buzz McClain
    Washington Post.com
    Saturday, January 31, 2004; Page C07

    "There's just no percentage in remembering the past; it's time you learned to live again at last."

    Peter Tork, born in D.C. as Peter Thorkelston and about to turn 62 years old, seems to live by those words from "Take a Giant Step," a song by Carole King and Gerry Goffin recorded by Tork's former band, the Monkees.

    It was one of the few Monkees songs -- introduced somewhat disdainfully by Tork as "the B-side of the first single from 'that group' " -- the singer/songwriter played Thursday night at Jammin' Java. Instead of relying on his 1960s success, Tork's song selection was heavy on more recent originals and whimsical favorites (Elvis's "I Want You, I Need You, I Love You," the Beatles' "Lady Madonna").

    The very chipper Tork, looking somewhat professorial in goatee and rectangular spectacles, began his upbeat set with an acoustic guitar that he played like a banjo, fretting with his left hand and strumming-plucking with all five digits of his right. He wore a thumb pick and his fingernails were as long as guitar picks for this very reason.

    Tork also picked up a five-string banjo for a few traditional folk songs and Jackie Wilson's "(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher," which Tork encouraged the audience to sing with him. Later, playing an electric piano, Tork offered another Monkees tune, "Daydream Believer," which the crowd found much easier to sing along to.

    Opening the show, and then closing it as a duo with Tork, was the guitarist and songwriter James Lee Stanley, Tork's longtime friend, who distinguished himself with a set of lyrically mature, sophisticated acoustic numbers.

    Peter & James performed at the Towne Crier Cafe January 30, 2004

    Former Monkee Peter Tork takes making music seriously
    By John W. Barry
    Poughkeepsie Journal
    January 30, 2004

    Can you picture the blues-playing, harmony-singing Stephen Stills, who along with David Crosby and Graham Nash helped comprise the most famous set of initials in rock 'n' roll and changed the course of modern music, as a Monkee?

    Yes, that's Monkee -- two e's. No y.

    You remember them, don't you?

    They were the guys who formed a band together after signing on to star in a television program that featured a Beatle-esque rock ensemble that managed to squeeze in some dialogue and television adventure between the performance of catchy songs, most notably, ''Hey, Hey We're the Monkees.''

    Well, had musical history turned out differently, we might be remembering Stills more for The Monkees than CSN. He auditioned for the television program but was told he wasn't telegenic enough.

    Shortly beforehand, Stills had arrived in Manhattan, where another musician named Peter Tork had been playing music.

    ''I was working in Greenwich Village, people came up to me and said, 'There's a new kid in town who looks just like you,' '' Tork said this week during a telephone interview.

    So when Stills was told he wasn't quite Monkee enough to make it in television, his similarity in looks to Tork prompted him to track down the future primate and musical associate and tell him about the auditions.

    ''He called me up twice,'' Tork recalled.

    He's been swinging like a Monkee ever since.

    ''Our producer, who cast us, said that the one thing he had to say for himself, when he cast us, he caught lightning in the bottle,'' Tork said. ''For all of the potential shortcomings that have spun us apart, I have to pay tribute to each of them, separately and together, for just being magnificent talents. I only wish that we could have exploited the talent we had better and longer and more efficiently.''

    Playing the clubs:

    You can catch some of that Monkee madness tonight when Tork performs at the Towne Crier Cafe in Pawling with James Lee Stanley, a guitarist who has performed with such musicians as Bonnie Raitt and Chick Corea.

    ''I think it's pretty incredible they're still trying to keep themselves around, like the Rolling Stones,'' Adam Lent, 35, who lives in Georgia but is working in New York, said of The Monkees, Wednesday on Mill Street in Poughkeepsie.

    Like Tork, Stanley is a musician and an actor, having appeared on ''Star Trek: Deep Space 9'' and ''Voyager.'' He also has a degree in orchestration and arranging, and worked as a Chinese linguist in the U.S. Air Force.

    Tonight, Stanley will perform a set, then Tork will play a set, then the duo will play together.

    ''With James and I, it's about having a blend and the way the guitars work against each other,'' Tork said.

    Another of Tork's projects, Shoe Suede Blues, lets the former Monkee explore the blues.

    ''With Shoe Suede Blues, it's about the rhythm and the soul,'' he said. ''I'm into music now.''

    But as much as he continues to make music now, Tork will be forever linked to the coffeehouse-music-folk scene of 1960s New York City.

    ''Greenwich Village is what drew me to Greenwich Village,'' Tork said. ''It was the artist's world -- Bohemians, hipsters and the underworld, the entire underworld. The ground spring of light.''

    And he will be forever linked with The Monkees, which lived as a television show from 1966 to '68, but traveled far beyond, thanks to the band's music and campy connections to the past.

    ''I have to say, that as a matter of music, I think The Monkees carried on more of a tradition than had a specific impact of their own.''

    No Monkee business
    Peter Tork brings blues band to Secaucus
    By Al Sullivan, Reporter senior staff writer
    The Secaucus Reporter
    September 14, 2003

    As a member of the classic 1960s TV sitcom and pop band "The Monkees," Peter Tork always put on an act as something of a country bumpkin, slow on the uptake. This was a routine he had learned years earlier to protect himself from the verbal barbs audiences on the Greenwich Village folk music scene would sometimes hurl.

    But in an interview done last week in preparation for a performance of Shoes Swede Blue band in Secaucus later this month, Tork showed he had thought a lot about his career and the choices he had made over the last three decades.

    Tork is scheduled to perform twice at the Super Mega Show at the Crowne Plaza in Secaucus on Sept. 20 and 21, and will also have a talk about his career and his relatively new venture into the blues at a special Saturday night dinner concert.

    Tork grew up in a family that emphasized folk and classical music, and became part of the second generation of the Greenwich Village folk scene in the early 1960s that included Roger McGuinn, Richie Havens, John Sebastian, Joan Bias, Steven Stills and others.

    "Most of us played the same kind of music," he said, rattling off the names of what have become for most of us classic folk tunes.

    He said folk singer Peter Seeger, a member of the Weavers, had a large influence on him.

    Perhaps a bit disillusioned with the lack of success in the Village scene, Tork sought out success on the West Coast, hooking up for a brief time with Steven Stills in Los Angeles. It was Stills who told Tork about the auditions for the TV show.

    Although capable of playing numerous instruments, including banjo and guitar, it was not his musical talent that allowed him to get the part of the lovable, somewhat slow-witted Monkee, but the character he had developed on stage.

    Designed to evoke the wackiness of the Beatles' movie "Hard Days Night," the Monkees TV show, Tork admitted, used every corny plot ever created for television. Yet the program broke new ground in one particular area, it presented a family-like group not controlled by a parent-like figure. This paved the way for several other hit TV shows that made use of a similar format.

    The Monkees, while billed as a band with records topping the charts, were not initially a band, but a group of actors playing parts. Yet as time went on, the actors gelled and sought to become more involved with their parts by seeking to live up to some of the hype by actually playing the instruments. Of the four, however, Tork was the only actual musician going in, and until he sought a greater music role, he played only a minor part in the musical production.

    Egos clashed as management mistook the band's intentions.

    "We didn't want creative control," Tork recalled. "We just wanted to play our own instruments."

    And for a short time, the illusion created by Hollywood actually came together as a band with the album Headquarters as their most commercially successful effort and the soundtrack to their movie, Head, perhaps the most artistically successful.

    Many of the hit singles put out under the name Monkees were ghostwritten for them by people like Carol King, Neil Diamond and others.

    "They were great songs, but they weren't our songs," he said.

    During a telephone interview last week, Tork talked about the past, but also about the present, about his reluctant steps towards singing the blues.

    While he always loved the blues, listening to some of the greats perform them, he always felt he lacked something that would allow him to reach into that part of himself.

    "The Blues over took me at a time I was left without feelings," he said. "Before that, I didn't know how to do it, or didn't feel I had a right to do it, and didn't know if I could ever do it."

    Perhaps time allowed him to develop those experiences, the common pain and joys that allow people to find ground upon which to agree. Everybody suffers. Everybody works through problems, indeed, even a one-time superstar like Tork.

    In fact, Tork went broke shortly after The Monkees broke up, and like many people of his generation, struggled through the issue of drug and alcohol abuse, eventually giving them up. After years of menial jobs such as washing dishes, and even an stint as a high school teacher, Tork found voice and comfort in singing the blues.

    "My experience with the blues when I do it well, is that I am relieved of my trials and tribulations," he said. "The blues remove you for a moment from everyday worries."

    But more importantly, he said, the blues allow people to realize that everyone is struggling through similar situations, building a common reference of understanding.

    "People might go out later and treat others a little better because they've come to understand we're all have the same kind of problems," Tork said. "Blues isn't about being blue. It's about sadness, women, low life up bringing, but it is not designed to bring you down. Everyone relaxes a little and maybe treats their neighbor a little better."

    Tork became involved with Shoe Suede Blues in 1994 as a part of what was supposed to be a one-time fund-raiser for a charity event. People liked it so much, he and the other members continued on. Some members have come and gone over the years, but the band has always had an impressive musical lineup.

    The group coming to Secaucus on Sept. 20 through 21 includes Michael Sunday, a one-time member of Blues Underground; John Palmer, who has played with The 5th Dimension; The Diamonds; Rosie and the Originals; The Penguins and Sha Na Na, and Richard Mikuls, whose credits include work with Rufus, BB King, Ike and Tina Turner, Chuck Berry, Sly Stone, Quincy Jones, Ray Charles, Little Richards, Jerry Lee Lewis, the Pointer Sisters and others.

    Tork said performances at the Crowne Plaza in Secaucus will be about an hour long, and will include a special dinner talk about music, the Monkees, politics and overall life.

    "Something like this interview," Tork said.

    Performances include a variety of well-known and not so well-know blues tunes, including some bluesy Monkee tunes.

    The band has two CDs that will be for sale at the event, one a commercial release that includes a variety of cover tunes, and the other a live souvenir edition only available so far at their shows, including original material and obscure blues numbers

    Although a West Coast resident, Tork said most of the tours are east of the Mississippi River, including previous performances in Secaucus at the Super Mega Show.

    The event, which is a kind of collectable, toy and comic fair, has a score of other guests, former movie and television stars, and models and wrestlers on the bill. The cost is $16 per day or $30 for two days (with admission to the concert for both days). A super VIP Weekend Pass of $150 includes all the weekend events including an exclusive Saturday night dinner and concert. For more information about the show, times, and ticket costs call (800) 505-8697.

    Notable Quotes
    July 16, 2003

    HOLLYWOOD (Reuters) - They really said it -- notable quotes from the news:

    "The message of 'The Monkees' was that when authority goes off course, you have to rely on yourselves. We needed that message during Vietnam. We need it again today. You can argue about the Monkees' music but that message was their enduring contribution."

    -- Former Monkee PETER TORK, who now plays in a band called Shoe Suede Blues, in the New York Daily News.

    Peter Tork isn't just monkeying around with the blues
    By Eric R. Danton
    The Hartford Courant
    July 16, 2003

    The blues sounds easy to play, but Peter Tork knows better.

    That's right, Peter Tork. Former Monkee, recovering alcoholic. He knows about the blues, despite coming up as a Greenwich Village folkie in the early 1960s.

    "Two things stopped me from playing the blues then," Tork said from his Los Angeles home, before leaving for a tour that brings his band, Shoe Suede Blues, to the Mohegan Sun tonight.

    "One was that half the kids playing the blues were simply imitating the blues. They were mouthing the blues."

    The other reason, Tork said, was a matter of upbringing.

    "I knew I was growing up a middle-class white kid and I was not sure what I had to contribute to the blues," he said. "And now I do believe I know something, do believe I've got something."

    The middle-class white kid was born in Washington, D.C., and lived in Detroit, Germany and New York before his family settled in Mansfield, Conn., where his father taught economics for years at the University of Connecticut. After trying the Greenwich Village scene, Tork moved to L.A. where he auditioned and won a spot as one of the Monkees, a made-for-TV band inspired by the Beatles' A Hard Day's Night. Next came a solo career that eventually led Tork to the blues.

    "The reason that you listen to the blues is because when you listen to the blues, you know that you're in this together," he said. "The blues is about community -- not about how lonely I am, but everybody's been lonely."

    Shoe Suede Blues came together a few years ago when Tork and some acquaintances played a benefit for a women's recovery house. A few gigs around L.A. followed, and then trips to the East Coast. Now the band has simple goals.

    "World domination," Tork said, deadpan. "World peace through intimidation."

    Tork on blues: I'm a believer
    By David Hinckley, Daily News Feature Writer
    NY Daily News - Entertainment
    July 15, 2003

    When they were American idols in the 1960s, the pop hits of Peter Tork and the Monkees stood at the other end of the pop music spectrum from, say, the fierce blues of bands like Paul Butterfield's.

    But that will be Peter Tork tomorrow at the Cutting Room, playing the blues with his own band, Shoe Suede Blues.

    Their blues mix, captured on last year's CD "Saved by the Blues," is rich and eclectic. They play Robert Johnson's hypnotically intense "Come on in My Kitchen." They play Louis Jordan and Muddy Waters.

    And they play bluesy renditions of several Monkees tunes.

    "It's all of a piece," says Tork. "It flows together."

    Tork met the blues through his mother's jump and swing records, then again as part of the '60s Village folk crowd.

    Then he spent the later '60s as a Monkee - whose key legacy, he argues, is not their music.

    "Yes, we were imitations of the Beatles," he says. "Yes, we were copying 'A Hard Day's Night.' But we were also, until very recently, the only television show about young adults that didn't rely on an older adult authority figure.

    "The message of 'The Monkees' was that when authority goes off course, you have to rely on yourselves. We needed that message during Vietnam. We need it again today. You can argue about the Monkees' music, but that message was their enduring contribution."

    Not that he minded the hits.

    "Back then," he says, "having a hit record meant it was a good record."

    Today, while Tork still records, he admits, "I wouldn't have any idea how to get into the commercial market. For me, most of what's there just isn't very good. It has no meaning to me."

    So he plays something that does: the blues.

    "You don't have to have been a black sharecropper to play the blues," he says. "But you do have to have overcome the white man's disease, which is 'otherizing' everyone else - distancing yourself from the humanity of anyone who isn't you.

    "Once you overcome that, the only question about playing the blues is whether you feel them."

    It's a musical question, in most ways, and Tork has a musical answer.

    "When you catch a good blues groove," he says, "it's unlike anything else in this world."

    From: Carlisle

    Peter Tork in New Book, to be Released March 31, 2003! "Something to Write Home About" is a riveting collection of personal baseball memories told in handwritten letters from various well-known personalities to author and songwriter, Seth Swirsky (son of baseball player Steve Swirsky). Some of the contributors to this fascinating book include Buzz Aldrin, President George W. Bush, Senator Edward Kennedy, Sir Paul McCartney, Tom Seaver, Peter Tork and Barry Williams, just to name a few.

    Inside the book you will find many interesting, personal stories from people of all walks of life, and their connection to the game of baseball. You will also find yourself seeing life through the eyes of these people and perhaps learning something about them that you didn't know before!

    "Something to Write Home About" is filled with more than 170 rare photographs and roughly 80 letters. It is a must for baseball fans, a thrill for the fans of its contributing writers, and a great little slice of Americana of which the author can be very proud.

    The book will hit book stores everywhere on March 31, 2003, just in time for baseball season! The cover price for the book is listed as $25.95 (hardback). For more information about Seth Swirsky, please visit his website at Seth.com.

    Amazon.com: Books: Something to Write Home About: Great Baseball Memories in Letters to a Fan

    Good news - Shoe Suede Blues has released their 2nd CD, entitled 'Saved by the Blues'! The CD was officially released on their recent sold-out March tour and is now available to the public. Tracks on the CD include:

    • Saved by The Blues
    • Cab Driver
    • Help Me
    • Hound Dog
    • Route 66
    • Kiss and Tell
    • Dress Sexy For Me
    • Treat Her Right
    • Big Boss Man
    • Slender, Tender & Tall
    • Wine/Texas BBQ
    • Come On In My Kitchen

    Half of the tracks on this CD were recorded at a studio, the other half were recorded live at a performance at The Mint in Los Angeles, CA. The CD's are available at Shoe Suede Blues.

    PTsgirl Purple Haze